Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wetherall, George Augustus

WETHERALL, Sir GEORGE AUGUSTUS (1788–1868), general, born in 1788, was the son of General Sir Frederick Augustus Wetherall [q. v.] He was educated at the Hyde Abbey school, Winchester, and the Military College, Farnham, being already commissioned as lieutenant in the 7th (royal fusiliers) on 29 July 1795. In 1798 he was placed on half-pay, but on 9 July 1803 he joined the regiment of Nova Scotia fencibles formed by his father. Hitherto his name had been shown in the army list as ‘F. Augustus,’ but the seniority given to him marks his identity. He became captain on 13 May 1805, and exchanged to the 1st (royals) on 27 Nov. 1806.

He was brigade-major under his father at the Cape of Good Hope in 1809, was taken prisoner with him on passage to India in 1810, and served as his aide-de-camp in the conquest of Java in 1811. He was made brevet major on 12 Aug. 1819, and regimental major on 30 Dec. He was military secretary to the commander-in-chief at Madras from 1822 to 1825, and deputy judge-advocate-general in 1826. On 11 Dec. 1824 he was made brevet lieutenant-colonel, and on 7 Aug. 1828 lieutenant-colonel of the royals. He commanded the second battalion of it at Bangalore, in the Madras presidency, brought it home in 1831, and went with it to Canada in 1836. He was in command of the troops at Montreal when the insurrection broke out in the autumn of 1837. On 25 Nov., at the head of four companies of the royals, a detachment of the 66th, and a troop of Montreal cavalry, with two six-pounders, he stormed a stockade held by the insurgents at St. Charles. His horse was shot and he lost twenty-one men. On 15 Dec., at the head of a brigade consisting of the royals and some colonial troops, he took part in the action of St. Eustache under Sir John Colborne, afterwards Lord Seaton [q. v.] (London Gazette, 26 Jan. 1838). He had received the Hanoverian order (K.H.) in 1833. He was made C.B. on 13 June 1838, brevet colonel on 28 June, and aide-de-camp to the queen on 29 July 1842.

He left the royals on 14 July 1843, being appointed deputy adjutant-general in North America, whence he passed on 8 April 1850 to a similar post at headquarters. He was promoted major-general on 11 Nov. 1851, and was appointed adjutant-general on 1 Dec. 1854. He held this office for six years, and has been described as ‘an officer of the Lord Hill type,’ well acquainted with his duties, and genial in the discharge of them (Stoqueler, Personal History of the Horse Guards, p. 251). From 1860 to 1865 he had command in the northern district, and on 21 Aug. 1866 he was appointed governor of Sandhurst College. He had been given the colonelcy of the 84th foot on 15 June 1854, and had become lieutenant-general on 8 Sept. 1857, and general on 23 Oct. 1863. He was made K.C.B. on 5 Feb. 1856, and received the grand cross on 28 March 1865.

He died at Sandhurst on 8 April 1868, aged 80. In 1812 he married Frances, daughter of Captain Denton, E.I.C.S., and left one son.

His son, Sir Edward Robert Wetherall (d. 1869), major-general, entered the army on 27 June 1834, as ensign in his father's regiment, the 1st (royals). He became lieutenant on 22 Aug. 1837, and served in the Canadian rebellion. He distinguished himself in the attack on St. Eustache (Lysons, Early Reminiscences, p. 86). Promoted captain on 19 Dec. 1845, he exchanged to the Scots fusilier guards on 15 July 1854. He served in the Crimea, as assistant quartermaster-general, till the fall of Sebastopol, and was the guide of the cavalry in the flank march to Balaclava (Kinglake, iii. 82, 494). He was made brevet major on 12 Dec. 1854, and brevet lieutenant-colonel on 17 July 1855. He was afterwards deputy quartermaster-general to the Turkish contingent at Kertch, and director-general of land transport (which he reorganised) in the Crimea. He received the medal with four clasps, C.B., Legion of Honour (fifth class), Medjidie (third class), and Turkish medal. On 11 Dec. 1855 he was made aide-de-camp to the queen, and colonel.

He was appointed deputy quartermaster-general to the forces in China in 1857, but was employed in India, owing to the outbreak of the mutiny. He was chief of the staff of the central India field force under Sir Hugh Henry Rose (afterwards Lord Strathnairn) [q. v.]; and was present at the storming of Kunch and the battle of Gulauli, 22 May 1858, in which his horse was shot. He afterwards commanded a field force in South Oude, as brigadier, and on 3 Nov. stormed the fort of Rampur Kussia, taking twenty-three guns. He lost seventy-eight men; and Sir Colin Campbell was ‘much put out’ that he had not waited for Sir Hope Grant, as had been arranged (Grant, Incidents of the Sepoy War, p. 365). He received the medal and clasp, and was given an unattached lieutenant-colonelcy for his services in central India (London Gazette, 26 April 1859).

He was appointed deputy quartermaster-general to the forces in Ireland on 28 Jan. 1859, and one of the rewards for distinguished service was conferred on him on 20 Dec. 1861. On 28 April 1865 he was made deputy quartermaster-general at headquarters, and in 1868 he succeeded Sir Thomas Larcom as under-secretary in Ireland. He was made K.C.S.I. on 16 Sept. 1867, and promoted major-general on 8 March 1869.

He died suddenly in Dublin on 11 May 1869, having already won ‘the cordial respect of all with whom he had official intercourse’ (Times, 14 May 1869). On 26 Jan. 1847 he married Katherine, daughter of John Durie of Astley Hall, Lancashire, and left three sons and three daughters.

[Gent. Mag. 1868, i. 690; Cannon's Records of the 1st (Royals), pp. 256, &c.; Annual Reg. 1838, p. 10; Burke's Landed Gentry; United Service Mag. 1869, ii. 285.]

E. M. L.